This essay examines the song “Hotel California” by The Eagles, which has garnered legions of fans (and detractors) and taken on a variety of meanings as it has made its way around the globe. Well known in China and India, among other places, it even made a cameo appearance in the American spy plane incident of 2001, when Chinese guards asked members of the U.S. crew of a downed surveillance jet to tell them the words to this well known song from their country. The essay looks at the song’s popularity abroad, and the power of music in forming memories and conjuring a sense of place and time.

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